Dynamic role of "illite-like" clay minerals in temperate soils: facts and hypotheses - Bioemco Access content directly
Journal Articles Biogeochemistry Year : 2007

Dynamic role of "illite-like" clay minerals in temperate soils: facts and hypotheses

Bruce Velde
  • Function : Author
Luc Abbadie
  • Function : Author


Analysis of new data and reinterpretation of published information for clay minerals found in temperate climate soil profiles indicates that there is often a gradient of "illite-like" clay minerals with depth. We used the term "illite-like" because these observations are based on X-Ray Diffractogram patterns and not on layer charge measurements which allow to define properly illite. It appears that "illite-like" layers are concentrated in the upper, organic rich portion of the soil profile both under grassland and forest vegetation. "Illite-like" layer quantity seems directly related to soil potassium status. Indeed, intensive agriculture practises without potassium fertilization reduce "illite-like" content in surface soils, whereas several years of potassic fertilization without plant growth can increase "illite-like" content. The potassic soil clay mineral, illite, is particularly important in that it can be the major source of readily available potassium for plants. Spatial and temporal dynamics of clay minerals should be related to the potassium cycle. We propose that the frequently observed general trend of increasing exchangeable potassium in the top soil can be correlated with an increase in "illite-like" in the clays and that the decrease of potassium caused by intensive agricultural practices leads to "illite-like" layer destabilization. This vision of "illite-like" layer as a potassium reservoir refueled by plants and emptied by intensive cropping renews the concept of potassium availability and indicates a need to be discussed as well in natural ecosystems as in cultivated ecosystems.
No file

Dates and versions

bioemco-00160384 , version 1 (05-07-2007)


  • HAL Id : bioemco-00160384 , version 1
  • PRODINRA : 251601


Pierre Barre, Bruce Velde, Luc Abbadie. Dynamic role of "illite-like" clay minerals in temperate soils: facts and hypotheses. Biogeochemistry, 2007, pp.77-88. ⟨bioemco-00160384⟩
164 View
0 Download


Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More